Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens is only 1 of 3 remaining daimyo (feudal lord) gardens from the early Edo Period. Land was often granted to daimyo – or put under their care for the shogun or emperor. The gardens date back to the early 1600’s and you can still see many artifacts from centuries past (such as the large stone bridge).
Unlike many Japanese gardens, Korakuen has a more Chinese (Confucian) design.
Things To Do
The park has lots of walking trails, a large and a small pond, and some great views of Tokyo from various vantage points.
This quaint little restaurant is superb – a must see if you are in Tokyo.
The menu is quite good – most are traditional dishes but heaped with all kinds of extra cheese. Prices are a bit on the high side – around $30-$40 per person, but well worth it. The quality is excellent.
Exit here (north/west exit), turn left out of the station, left again at the corner and head south.
You’ll pass several side streets – there’s a cheap 200¥ coin locker on one if you need one, and Cheese Meets Meat is on down a bit on your right.
You’ll pass this coin locker on your left.
Pass this side street.
From Tokyo Dome City
If you are coming from Tokyo Dome City (TDC), head out the south exit on the west side of the complex, cross the little bridge there, and head south on the street straight ahead. Cheese Meets Meat is down just 2 blocks to the south.
To get to TDC, take either the Marunouchi or Namboku Metro subway line, and head up into the TDC complex (the Metro station is across the street from TDC). Cross through the LaQua complex (towards the stadium), head to the right down the stairs beyond the stadium, through a small covered area where First Cabin is, across another small foot bridge, and down the stairs + cross the street. Make a dog-leg left down the street towards Cheese Meets Meat.
Cross through the LaQua area shown here (the other direction – this is facing north).
Go past Tokyo Dome Stadium to the left in this photo...
And down the stairs + through the small covered area on the right.
The covered area from the reverse angle. There’s a bowling alley and First Cabin.
Exit the covered area….
And head down this ramp.
Immediately on your right you’ll pass this Koban (police box).
There’s actually a quicker shortcut to Cheese Meets Meat from Suidobashi Station: if you exit the station from the east exit and loop around the long side of the station to the south, you’ll come to the trestle shown on the right above. If you turn hard left here, it will take you down a short diagonal side street which will end right across from Cheese Meets Meat. Don’t head down the tiny street straight ahead, but instead make the hard left down the larger side street shown on the left above. This photo is looking southwest.
JR Suidobashi Station east exit – take the north/west exit instead. Take the east exit here + turn right at the street shown ahead for the shortcut mentioned above.Note the nice brand new renovation paint job on the overhead tracks.
It turns out this is fairly easy – given a few caveats.
JR Itabashi Station, right – newly finished in 2020.
The main avenue that runs from Itabashi to Tokyo Dome City is called Hakusan-Dori. You can cruise all the way from northwest Tokyo down to Tokyo Dome and beyond on this one street. In fact, if you pass Tokyo Dome City heading east, you can take Hakusan-Dori all the way to the Imeperial Palace and Maruonuchi.
So, in photos we’ll show you roughly how to get there.
(As a side note, if you plan to come back this same way, note that as you pass Sugamo Station heading back north, you’ll come upon Jizo-Dori Shopping Street on the left. This is a must-see area, especially at dusk. Loads of great food and shops to explore. See our other post on Jizo-Dori Street).
Keep cruising for several miles. You’ll pass charming side streets, and a huge Mizuho Bank, which is, by chance, one block north of the world HQ of Pioneer Corporation, shown below.
The large white bldg. to the southeast is the world HQ of Pioneer Corp.
As the Fig Newton Man used to say in the 1970’s: here’s the tricky part:
Hakusan-Dorisplits shortly up ahead. The old street veers to the left and you don’t want to miss the split to the right, or you’ll be taken well out of your way. The split is shown below and when you come to it, cross at the light shown, then veer back left into a brand new bike lane:
Japan’s few bike lanes were designed to have a row of parking spaces to the right for deliveries to park in but lots of trucks just ignore them and park in the bike lane itself anyway – making it even more dangerous. Be extremely careful when passing vehicles parked in the bike lane. It’s easy for traffic not to see you since you’ll be where they don’t expect you to be – in the parking spaces to the right!
Keep cruising and shortly you’ll come to Bunkyo Civic Center. You can either turn right here, or go 1-2 more blocks + turn down the side alley next to the 1st Tokyo Dome City bldg (the big pink one on the right). In either case, your goal is to scope out the huge bike parking lot behind Bunkyo Civic Center. As a short side trip after parking your bike you might want to go check out the huge observation deck atop the city hall, shown below:
On most days – unless you arrive before dawn – the bike lot will most likely be full. In that case, just park your bike in the lot and put a lock on it. As with most places in Japan, the bike parking isn’t strictly enforced in the short-term. Just don’t leave your bike there overnight or for a few days – or else it might get towed. A Gorin Lock + bike lock will keep it safe. You generally don’t need to worry about bike theft in Japan.
Our $200 Chinese special parked in the lot – along with dozens of other bikes just sitting there, many without locks. Bike parking in the short-term isn’t strictly enforced in Japan.